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All things pigskin.

Who Have They Played?!

The content here at Buckeye Planet is created (with apologies to Mr. Lincoln) by fans and for fans. The media will throw context-free numbers at you and call it analysis. Their marketers tell them to assume that their viewers have a 7th to 8th grade level of education. Seriously. Here at BP, we don't make any assumptions about who you are, except perhaps that you're like us. We like our guests with thick skin and sarcastic wit and our numbers with enough context to make them relevant.

The talking heads of college football spew all sorts of stats all the time. When there are a few seconds of dead air to fill, some coiffed and tanned former jock will casually mention a statistic or factoid that's supposed to make himself sound intelligent and informed, and you to feel out of touch with reality, something like: "James Madison has the best rushing defense in the country." You hear it, and your preconditioned response is to throw something at your television and yell (scream it with me, everyone): "Who Have They Played?!"

Who Have They Played?! That's always a fair question. Yes, we think that's even a fair question when it's asked of our beloved Buckeyes. It also happens to be an especially fair (and hilarious) question when the person doing the asking is Desmond Howard (whose Wolverines currently have the 78th ranked schedule according to Sagarin).

One of the ways to dig into the Who Have They Played question is to compare a certain team to everyone else their opponents have played. While each team has played only six or seven games so far, that team's opponents have played about three dozen combined opponents at this point of the season. This comparison - opponents of opponents - injects some context into the statistics while also increasing the number of data points.

Some notes on methodology before we get started:
  • Games against FCS opponents are factored out. For example, Toledo's shut-out of the Long...
Notre Dame Postgame

1. With last night's 21-10 victory, Ohio State now leads the Notre Dame series 5 to 2, with each of the Buckeyes' wins coming by a double-digit margin (average margin of victory of 14.6 points). Ohio State also outgained Notre Dame in yardage (395 yards to 253 yards); first downs (22 to 12); plays (69 to 48); and time of possession (33 minutes to 27 minutes).

2. The first narrative heading into the game was this: Ohio State's high-powered passing attack would generate several big plays against a stout but slow Notre Dame defense. As things turned out, Notre Dame had the three longest pass plays of the game (54, 32, and 31 yards), and averaged far more yards per attempt (9.3 to 6.6) and per completion (17.7 to 9.8) than Ohio State.

3. The second narrative heading into the game was this: Notre Dame would win the battles of the trenches, allowing the Domer offense to run the ball consistently and the Domer defense to shut down the Buckeyes' running game. As things turned out, Ohio State easily outgained Notre Dame on the ground (172 yards to 76 yards) and nearly doubled their yards per carry (4.9 to 2.5).

4. It is unfair to say that Buckeye quarterback CJ Stroud regressed all the way back to the beginning of 2021, but he certainly did not pick up where he left off in last year's Rose Bowl. The numbers look pretty good (24/34, 223 yards, 2 TD, no INT, one sack), but Stroud was slow to make decisions, inaccurate with several passes, and once again displayed a maddening refusal to run the ball even with 10+ yards of open field in front of him. Nobody wants Stroud to be a running quarterback, but he has to learn to take positive yardage when the defense gives it to him, just like any other quarterback would do.

5. Sophomore Emeka Egbuka had his best game as a Buckeye with 9 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown, while fellow soph...
Ohio State vs Notre Dame: The Rivarly That Never Was

The Big Ten Conference was formed in 1896, and by 1917 it counted as members every major football power in the upper midwest. All except one - Notre Dame.

Notre Dame began football in 1887 as an independent and it has stayed that way ever since (more or less - see below) despite various attempts to lure them into a conference. But in the early days, before Notre Dame became a brand name in college football, the small private Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana, actually tried to join the Big Ten. Although Notre Dame fit the Big Ten profile geographically, that factor was about the only match with the other conference members, most of whom (Northwestern and Chicago being the exceptions) were large state-operated "land grant" universities. The Big Ten could ignore the "small" and "private" aspects of Notre Dame, as the conference had previously done with Northwestern and the University of Chicago, but many of the key players had a serious problem with the "Catholic" element of that university.

The rift between Notre Dame and the Big Ten dates back to at least 1909. Back then, Notre Dame was a considered a "cupcake". From 1887 to 1908, the Fighting Irish sported an impressive overall record of 89-30-9 (.730 winning percentage), but the vast majority of those victories came against a motley crew of high schools, prep schools, medical schools, dental schools, law schools, future D-III programs, and private clubs such as the Illinois Cycling Club and the South Bend Howard Park Club. Against the relatively powerful Big Ten schools, Notre Dame had a miserable record of 10-23-4, with the Irish being outscored 189 to 518 in those 37 contests.

Led by the legendary Fielding Yost, Michigan was perhaps the most powerful program in the country in first decade of the Twentieth Century. Yost took over the Michigan program in 1901, and during his first eight years on the job his team posted...
In this article, I will look at Ohio State and Michigan during three Eras of college football: the Pre-Poll Era (from 1869 to 1935); the Poll Era (from 1936 to 1997); and the Playoff Era (1998 to present).

During the Pre-Poll Era, all national championship recognized by the NCAA were awarded by historical committees after the fact.

The Poll Era began in 1936 with the advent of the Associated Press (AP) Poll, which is still in existence. From 1936 to 1949, the NCAA recognizes the AP national champion as the sole national champion; and from 1950 to 1997 as one of the national championship selectors. The NCAA also recognizes national championships awarded by the following selectors: United Press International (UPI) coaches poll from 1950 to 1997; the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) from 1954 to 1997; and the National Football Foundation (NFF) from 1959 to 1997. During the 48 years of multiple national championship selectors, there were 15 split national championships, and twice the national championship was split three ways (1964; 1970).

The Playoff Era began in 1998 with the BCS Championship, which was essentially a two-team playoff designed to settle all future national championship disputes. Despite the best efforts and intentions of the BCS and their computer models, there was still a split national championship in 2003, when the BCS awarded its championship to #2 Louisiana State (13-1 record, winner of the BCS Championship Game over #3 Oklahoma), while the AP and FWAA awarded their respective national championships to #1 Southern Cal (12-1 record, winner of Rose Bowl over #4 Michigan).

The Playoff expanded from two teams to four teams in 2014, and thus far this expansion has prevented any further split national championships.

A few additional notes: Unanimous national championships are in parentheses. Outright Big Ten titles are in parentheses. Consensus All Americans are those recognized by the NCAA. Vacated games and titles have been...
Maryland Recap (2022)

#2 Ohio State had a bad day yesterday, needing a last-second defensive score to secure a shaky 43-30 victory against an unranked Maryland team that was trying to recover from blow out losses in its two previous games (23-10 to Wisconsin; 30-0 to Penn State). Now for some perspective....
  • #1 Georgia looked offensively challenged in a 16-6 win over unranked Kentucky (6-5 overall, 3-5 in conference, same as Maryland).
  • #3 scUM needed a last-second field goal to beat unranked Illinois, 19-17, and also lost Heisman hopeful Blake Corum to an injury.
  • #4 TCU needed a last-second field goal to beat unranked Baylor, 29-28.
  • #5 Tennessee got blown out by unranked South Carolina, 63-38, and also lost Heisman hopeful Hendon Hooker to an injury.
  • #13 North Carolina lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 21-17; Heisman pretender Drake Maye was awful and choked on the potential game-winning drive.
  • #14 Ole Miss lost to unranked Arkansas, 42-27.
  • #20 UCF (LOL at that ranking) lost to unranked Navy, 17-14.
  • #22 Oklahoma State (another LOL) lost to unranked Oklahoma, 28-13.
  • #24 NC State lost to unranked Louisville, 25-10.
  • Miami is still not back after getting blown out by Clemson, 40-10, and falling below .500 on the season (5-6 overall, 3-4 in conference).
  • And finally, Virginia cancelled its game because three of their players were murdered by a former teammate.
So a 13-point victory on the road against a motivated opponent in a trap game before Rivalry Week wasn't such a bad result after all.

1. Not such a bad result, but still pretty damned ugly to watch at times. And much of that ugliness emanated from quarterback C.J. Stroud, who did nothing to promote his Heisman chances except to avoid getting injured. Stroud was 18/30 (.600) for 241 yards, a TD, and no INTs, but was clearly outplayed by his counterpart,...
Numbers can be a good way of comparing football teams, but only if you know what numbers tell you and more importantly, what they don't. Much of what a number can tell you depends on context. At Buckeye Planet, we use differential statistics to compare teams because they have context built into them. Some quick examples before we get started. If you score twice as much as your opponents typically allow and pass for twice as many yards, then your Differential Scoring Offense and you Differential Passing Offense are both 2.0 (twice as good as average). If you allow half as many yards rushing as your opponents gain against everyone else and allow half as many points, then your Differential Rushing Defense and your Differential Scoring Defense are both 0.5 (also twice as good as average). For more complete explanations of the numbers herein and what the categories mean, see Our Glossary. See especially the entry on Differential Scoring Composite (DSC), which is an objective measure which we use to compare teams.

There are some surprises in the numbers this week. The first surprise this week is really only a surprise if you missed the Differential Statistical Analysis (DSA) rundown of the CFP Top 12 last week.
TeamDYpC ratioDYpC RankCFP Rank
Ohio State1.52312
Contextual Comparisons

Like any sports message board, Buckeye Planet is full of people who are convinced that they're right and that anyone who disagrees with them is not only wrong but also stupid, insane, evil, downright un-American, or combination thereof. What sets us apart is that we also have a few people who have a sense of perspective. I'm not one of them, but I hear they're out there.

This time of year the discussions and arguments among college football fans are about who deserves to be ranked where in the CFP rankings. Statistics can't end those discussions and settle those arguments, because everyone has a different definition of that elusive word "deserves". Even for those who believe that being the best makes you deserving, stats can provide only data, not answers.

Unlike what you'll get from most sports media, we here at BP prefer stats with context. Rather than just compare teams to whom they've played, we prefer numbers that compare teams to everyone whom their opponents have played.

Take scoring offense: Just scoring more than other teams doesn't mean much if you don't answer the age-old question: "Who have they played?" But if you look at Differential Scoring Offense (DSO), the answer to that question is built into the statistic. A DSO of 1 means that you score exactly what your opponents usually give up; a DSO of 2 means you score twice as much; a DSO of 0.5 means you only score half as much. To add more context to the discussion, rigidity is a number from -100 to 100 that indicates how well your DSO holds up against better competition. For more information on BP-Style Stats, see this Glossary.

Rushing Offense

While our example above was scoring offense, the principle works the same for rushing offense. In Differential Rushing Offense (DRO), Air Force is...
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics ... and DSA

While most people save money so that they can retire some day, there are some professions that people seem to want to do for as long as they can get people to pay them to do it. Joe Biden and a disturbingly high percentage of Congress say hello. Football is another such profession. Those who can get people to pay them to play, tend to play as long as people keep paying them. Tom Brady says hello.

Coaching football is also a profession that people tend to do for as long as they can get people to pay them to do it. Nick Saban tips his cap while preparing to head to Louisiana State; Joe Paterno tips his halo from the heights of heaven (which is much warmer than he expected). You might say that coaching takes this phenomenon to a higher level than any other, as people do it until they can get someone to pay them not to (Ed Orgeron gives a nod from the deck of his yacht), or better yet until several people have paid them not to (Charlie Weis mumbles a greeting with a mouthful of cheeseburger).

This has had a direct impact on the way many fans consume the sport, because sports media draws much of their "talent" from the ranks of former coaches. Because of the nature of the sport, most good coaches are still coaching. This means that sports media gets the leavings of the coaching industry.

Even so, some of these former coaches are by far the best analysts in the business (Urban Meyer says hello). For one reason or another, most of the rest of the analysts are former jocks, who played as long as they could and are now doing the talking-head thing because they can't get jobs as rocket scientists (Desmond Howard says derp).

The one thing that the leavings of the coaching industry and the former jocks have in common is that comparing teams the way that fans do is not really something that was part of their former job. Most of them don't really care about numerical comparisons because it...
But Who Has He Played?!

Most non-Buckeye fans will point to Ohio State's recent games against Iowa and Penn State and say that C.J. Stroud hasn't been at his best recently, at least not in the first three quarters of those two contests: "See!! See!! As soon as Stroud plays a defense with a pulse he doesn't look so great does he?!?!" Unfortunately for such fans, the fourth quarters of those games really did happen. For example, against Penn State, Stroud was 6 of 8 for 128 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter (in a span of just 4:06, to be precise), for a pass efficiency (PE) of 250.65. That is oddly similar to his season-long fourth quarter PE of 250.36. Unfortunately for Ohio State fans, however, the first three quarters of those games really did happen as well.

It would be just as disingenuous for us to cherry pick Stroud's spectacular fourth quarter numbers as it would be for other fans to dismiss them, so let's consider the entirety of Ohio State's last game, when Stroud was 26 of 33 for 354 yards and a touchdown for a PE of 178.897. While other fans would like to focus only on the first three quarters of that game, or better yet, to stop asking "Who has he played?" altogether, this is exactly when Ohio State fans should be pointing out just who it was that Stroud and his Buckeyes torched so badly.

Against everyone not named Ohio State, Penn State has an average pass efficiency defense (PED) of 102.828. If they hadn't played Ohio State, that would be good enough for third place in the country. After Stroud was done with them, they're now sitting at 111.04, or tenth in the country. To put it another way, Stroud's PE of 178.897 was 60 points better than what anyone else has done against Penn State all season thus far (Auburn's quarterbacks posted a combined 118.85 PE against Penn State in week three). To put it in even another way, you would have to multiply Penn State's average defensive pass efficiency against everyone...
Penn State Recap

1. With the 44-31 win yesterday, Ohio State improved its record against Penn State to 24-14 overall, and 22-8 in Big Ten play. Penn State: Still not elite ... still not our rival.

2. A 13-point margin of victory over the #13 team in the country looks pretty impressive, and the win would've looked even more impressive if the Buckeye defense hadn't surrendered a garbage time touchdown. In reality, however, Ohio State played about fifteen minutes of winning football yesterday, but those winning minutes produced 38 of the Buckeyes' 44 points (86.4%); 270 of their 452 total yards (59.7%); and all four forced turnovers. Ohio State continues to be a quick-strike team on both offense and defense, a team that has difficulty grinding out long drives on offense or preventing big plays on defense (see below).

3. For 3+ quarters, CJ Stroud played a fairly ordinary game. Then with Ohio State trailing 21-16 with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter, Stroud went on a Heisman-worthy tear. Over the next 4:06, Stroud completed 6 of 8 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, while the Buckeyes forged a 37-24 lead (soon to be 44-24 courtesy of a pick six) and it was game over. For the contest, Stroud completed 26/33 (.788) for 354 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions.

4. With Miyan Williams sidelined much of the game and the Penn State defense relying on a variety of blitzes, the Ohio State running attack never really got into gear. TreVeyon Henderson had 16 carries for 78 yards (4.9 average) and 2 TDs, one of which came from 41 yards out. Remove that long burst, and Henderson had just 37 yards on 15 carries for a paltry 2.5 average.

5. Henderson's 41-yard touchdown run was his sixth touchdown of 40+ yards for his Buckeye career, which ties him for 12th-place in Ohio State history; Ted Ginn Jr. leads all Buckeyes with 17 touchdowns of...